Richard Whately (1787-1863), the Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, was the author of popular works on logic and rhetoric as well as apologetic works. In this delightful spoof, published while Napoleon was still alive, Whately turns Hume’s skeptical doubts regarding miracles against reports of the career of Napoleon—with devastating results. In the Preface to the edition linked here, Whately gleefully reports that some readers took this spoof to be seriously recommending universal skepticism. The real point, of course, is that Hume’s extreme skepticism, consistently applied, leads to absurd results. Whately outlines his own positive views on apologetics in his Introductory Lessons on Christian Evidences (1856) and in his extensive comments to the 1859 edition [A] of Paley’s View of the Evidences of Christianity. An 1874 reprint of Whately’s Historic Doubts from the 11th London edition is available here.

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